Mussel Bouillon with Saffron, Chervil and a Crush of Butternut Squash
- 2 lbs small mussels, soaked, scrubbed and de-bearded
- Small pinch of saffron threads soaked in ¼ cup boiling water
- 4 shallots, minced
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 tbsps minced chervil (if unavailable, substitute chives), and several sprigs for garnish
- Fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 lbs cubed, fresh butternut squash
- 4 tbsps butter
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Fine seal salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Put the shallots and white wine in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and after 3 minutes or so add the mussels. Cover and steam the mussels, stirring once or twice until they have opened. Remove them with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Pour the liquid into a tall glass measuring cup and let any grit settle. Pour the clear liquid carefully back into the pan. Add the saffron to the mussel juice and reduce over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the cream and chervil. Mussels can be salty, so season to taste. Remove from heat.
Pick three-quarters the mussels from the shells and add them to the bouillon, reserving the rest in the shell for garnish.
Butternut Squash Crush:
In a large sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid, put the squash cubes in a half cup of water with a small pinch of salt; simmer, tightly covered, for 20-30 minutes. Uncover and stir from time to time until the squash is soft. You may have to add more water to keep the squash from sticking. When soft and dry, add the butter and crush with a fork. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Keep warm, or reheat gently at serving time.
To serve: Have ready six large warm shallow soup bowls. Using a round ring mold, mound a couple of tablespoons of butternut squash crush in the centre of each bowl. Ladle the warm mussel bouillon gently around the squash, and garnish with the reserved mussels in the shell and a few sprigs of chervil.